Saturday, September 1, 2007

Michigan Primary Change

Unfortunately, an amendment has come up this week to change Michigan's caucus system to a primary system. Michigan has always utilized a caucus system, which allow political parties to stage elections to determine state Presidential candidate endorsements. Only Dems can vote in a Democratic caucus election and only Republicans could vote in a Republican Caucus election. All the funding came from the parties' pockets. A primary system would be subsidized by the state for parties. What this means is that Michigan tax payers will have to fund elections to determine Democrat and Republican endorsements for President of the United States. Elections can cost states up to $10 million to finance. With an unsteady economy and a broken budget, the state of Michigan has a lot of nerve picking up the cost for purely political reasons.

Proponents argue that a primary would open up the system to allow more people to vote. They argue that the party-run caucus system turns people away at the polls by staging polling sites in churches and union locals (oh no). However, these are determinations which should be left to political parties since these are the endorsements the parties' will be stuck with. The winning candidates in the caucus/primary would win the votes alloted for Michigan at the party conventions. This is a separate determination than one that elects a candidate to office. Parties have a right to exclude members of the other party and a right to set polling locations, which tend to be at union locals for Democrats and churches for Republicans. This is about figuring out who the party faithful believe should be the best candidate so Michigan can endorse a candidate that Democratic party members will be proud of.

Once again, everyone will have to pay for these decisions which should be made by the party infrastructure. An example of how this can be unfair is the 2004 Presidential race. In 2004, the Republican party did not have a primary. George W. Bush was their candidate. In the primary system the Michigan legislature is recommending, everyone would have to pay for the Democratic primary even if the Republicans decided not to have one. The same could happen if the Democratic Party decided to avoid a primary (which can and has happened). Then all Michigan Democrats would be forced to pay for a Republican primary. Some Democratic Presidential candidates are supporting this change including Hillary Clinton. The Edwards camp, however, is against it. At a time when we are struggling to survive here in Michigan, primary elections are not worth the price and the unfair consequences. Michigan, don't raise our taxes for political favors.



Julianne said...

Hey Keith- my question is this- who made this amendment to change our system from caucuses to primaries? Since two strong Dem candidates have protested this change and taken their names off the list, with only Hilary Clinton left, it seems to have been done to ensure Clinton gets the Dem. nomination.

I think that Michigan newspapers (okay, only the college papers at UM)have done a crappy job of explaining why the primaries changed, and the political consequences of it.

Thanks for your blog, it's the only one that I've found that seems to be making sense out of the primary changes in Michigan.

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